The following are the most frequently asked questions following a disaster. Please read closely as this information can greatly assist you, your family and friends throughout the recovery process.
Where are the insurers?
The insurance industry is on-the-ground within hours of a disaster event so, if you’re reading this, we’re already here. Industry representatives will also be present at most community recovery centres and community forums.
My home is not safe to be lived in, what do I do?
Contact your insurer immediately. If you have home or building insurance, your policy may provide emergency temporary accommodation.
How does a Catastrophe/Disaster Declaration affect my claim?
A Catastrophe Declaration is made by the Insurance Council and means additional resources are made available to speed up insurance claims processing. In contrast, a Disaster Declaration is made by government and may make additional funds available for the recovery. These declarations have no effect on your insurance, your excess or what is covered by your policy.
When will an assessor attend my home?
An insurance assessor will inspect your property as quickly as possible once you’ve lodged a claim. That said, following large disasters, access to your property may be limited for several days or weeks. Your insurer will tell you when to expect your assessor.
Fraudsters and unexpected persons offering services
Unfortunately, disasters can attract fraudsters looking to profit from others misfortune. If a builder or assessor unexpectedly arrives at your door offering services, you may ask to see some identification for your peace of mind. You may also contact your insurer to confirm the builder or assessor has been appointed to assist with your claim.
The ‘Mud Army’ and good Samaritans
During disasters, good Samaritans may – with the best of intentions – attempt to remove damaged items from your home. Unfortunately, they often remove parts of a property which are not damaged or could have been easily repaired, complicating your insurance claim.
If good Samaritans offer you assistance, ensure only damaged fabrics posing a health hazard (such as couches and carpet) are removed, and only after you have taken a photograph and kept a sample.
Excess: what is it / do I have to pay it?
An excess is the amount you have agreed to pay towards each incident. The specific amount will be set out in your Certificate of Insurance. You may be required to pay more than one excess depending on the circumstances. If you are unsure, ask your insurer. A Disaster Declaration does not remove your obligation to pay your excess.
Flood v storm: and I covered?
If you did not opt-out of flood cover, and your property has been inundated with water, you will be insured regardless of whether the inundation was from a flood or storm water.
If you opted-out of flood cover in your policy, your insurer will typically arrange for an independent hydrologist to inspect your property in order to determine whether the inundation was from flood or storm water. The industry has a standard definition of flood which can be found in your policy.
Inundation to you property can be caused by a combination of both flood and storm water. If this is the case, and you opted-out of flood cover, your insurer may reduce your claim by the amount of damage it determines was caused by the flood water, but you will still be insured for the damage caused by the storm water.
Is storm surge covered?
Insurance policies typically do not cover storm surge. That said, if your property was damaged by extreme weather (such as a cyclone or a large storm) at the same time as the storm surge, the damage caused by storm surge may be partially or fully covered depending on the circumstances.